IT WAS the same outcome and the same setting as two years ago, but the manner in which Bubba Watson won the Masters at Augusta National on Sunday was very different.
Watson was much more dominant and aggressive on his way to a three-shot victory this time, playing magnificent golf that truly outclassed the rest of the field.
He also showed steel. Leading a Major is different to having to then come from behind, as Watson suddenly had to when Jordan Spieth surged to the front, but he dealt with everything the tournament threw at him and firmly answered any doubts about mental frailty.
Occasionally his aggression got the better of him, such as at 15, when he really didn’t need to take it on. It was a mental error, but he got away with it, partly because Augusta’s layout is so well suited to his game. Some of the drives he produced were like nothing I’ve seen before.
His idiosyncratic game means I wouldn’t necessarily tip him to go on and dominate a year, like Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald have in recent seasons, but this is a huge moment for him nonetheless and lifts him to fourth in the world. There are plenty of one-time Major winners but not so many multiple champions; now left-hander Watson can proudly call himself one of them.
Watson wasn’t the only American to dazzle; 20-year-old Spieth was also brilliant on his Masters debut. Although he faded a little to tie for second with Jonas Blixt, he looked a real star, and his new world ranking of No9 while still so young shows just what a talent he is.
Swede Blixt finished with a nice up and down to tie with Spieth. He has spent a lot of time in the States so I haven’t seen him as much as other Europeans, but he played great. He’s still a little way off Ryder Cup contention but he’s going in the right direction. Outside the top three, Miguel Angel Jimenez was incredible. He never quite got close enough to look like winning, but it was an unbelievable performance from the 50-year-old who continues to defy age – and everything else.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam